DETROIT (AP) — Ed Martin, who admitted he gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to former Michigan basketball players while they were in high school and college, has died, a federal prosecutor confirmed Saturday.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Convertino, whose office has been investigating Martin for nearly four years, said that the former Michigan booster died.
Elana Chrisman, a spokeswoman for Henry Ford Hospital, said Martin died there Friday evening at age 69 of a suspected pulmonary embolism.
After Martin pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy to launder money, the former auto worker told federal prosecutors he took gambling money, combined it with other funds and lent $616,000 to the four Michigan players while they still were amateurs.
The players were Chris Webber, now with the Sacramento Kings; Robert Traylor of the New Orleans Hornets; Maurice Taylor of the Houston Rockets; and Louis Bullock, who has been playing professionally in Europe.
Webber has been indicted on charges of lying to a federal grand jury about his dealings with Martin in 1988-93.
Martin’s name first surfaced after Taylor lost control of his car on Feb. 17, 1996. Taylor was returning from a party in Detroit with four teammates who were entertaining Mateen Cleaves on his official recruiting visit. When Michigan found out that the recruiting visit included a visit to Martin’s house, the school began to investigate his affairs with the basketball program.
Martin, his wife and Clarence Malvo were originally charged with conspiracy to engage in illegal gambling and could have faced up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.
Martin also faced seven other counts — having an illegal gambling business, conspiracy to launder money, three counts of laundering money and two counts of using money from illegal activities.
He was awaiting sentencing at the time of his death. The charge against Hilda Martin was dropped as part of the plea agreement.
In November, Michigan banned itself from postseason play this season and forfeited 112 regular-season and tournament victories from five seasons, plus its victory in the 1992 NCAA semifinal.
Paper programs and media guides no longer will mention the names of the four former players. Banners from the 1992 and 1993 Final Fours, the 1997 NIT title and the 1998 Big Ten tournament title were removed from Crisler Arena.
Michigan also returned to the NCAA $450,000 — money it earned for appearing in the postseason — and put itself on probation for two years.
On Friday, a delegation from the University appeared before an NCAA infractions committee to answer questions about the booster scandal. A ruling from the committee is expected in the next five to seven weeks. It could accept Michigan’s self-imposed penalties or assess more sanctions.
University spokespersons said Saturday that they had no comment on Martin’s death.
Malvo, who said he took bets and paid off wagers for Martin, pleaded guilty April 8 to lying before a federal grand jury. He admitted to telling a grand jury in October 1999 that he bet money but did not work for Martin.
Malvo was sentenced in August 2002 to two years of probation.
Funeral arrangements for Martin were being handled by the Swanson Funeral Home in Detroit but were incomplete late Saturday.